The poet dedicates the poem to Idries Shah, an author in the Sufist tradition who maintained that spiritual teachings should be present in forms and terms familiar in the community where they take root. Used humour and irony extensively influencing many intellectuals and authors, apparently including Vikram Seth.
One extraordinary aspect of Shah’s work is the wide spectrum of readers his books attract: they are read and studied by psychologists and novelists, physicists and by social workers, by actors, lawyers and housewives.
Idries Shah wrote 'The Tale of Melon City' as a short story in his book, The Caravan of Dreams. That story was converted into a poem by Vikram Seth. The poem is similar in style to a folklore but written with a satirical quill and ironical twists using couplets which do not break with the end of a line. The King is described throughout as 'just' and 'placid'. However, the irony lies in the execution of this 'justice' and 'calmness' which is carried too far by both the king and his ministers.